The Castell Guide Service offers fishing trips on numerous rivers throughout the Texas Hill Country. Most of our rivers in the Texas Hill Country are considered to be “plunge and pool” rivers, wherein the rivers will naturally pool for extended reaches (some over a mile long) only to change elevation (plunge) quickly over a very short reach. In the plunge areas we do see some lower classed rapids but there are few real dangers for paddlers who are respectful of the water and scout any unknown areas.
Guadalupe River Fishing Report Llano River Fishing Report
A greater concern for navigation on the River of the Texas Hill Country are the braids that form across a river bed and, especially on rock gardens of the Llano, can make a fishing trip into an adventure when the wrong stream is chosen. Fortunately, it is easy to portage a kayak or canoe from one channel to another on most sections of river.
Rivers fished by the Castell Guide Service include:
Guadalupe River Tailwater
The Guadalupe River below Canyon Dam is the southern most trout fishery in the United States. The prime season for fishing the Guadalupe is from December through March. The Guadalupe is similar to a number of other tailwaters in that nymph fishing is our most productive fishing method. Hatches on the Guadalupe include midges, blue winged olives, caddis, slate drakes, hexagenia, tricos, and various terrestrials.
Click here to see Guadalupe River Tailwater Access Points and Current Flows
Preferred gear for the Guadalupe is either 4 or 5 weight rod. I personally prefer a 9 foot 5 weight for fishing on the Guadalupe. Our average fish length on the river is about 16.5 inches and, while brown trout have been caught on the river from time to time, the most prolific trout species are rainbow trout. Waders are suggested for fishing in the winter months but it is possible to wet wade in the early and late months of the season. On many float trips, hip or waist-high waders are much more comfortable that chest waders.
Click here for the Guadalupe River Hatch Chart and Suggested Flies
Both the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited stock trout on the Guadalupe River each year, we typically see trout survive throughout the hot summer months.
While many local fishermen take advantage of the various fee access locations on the Guadalupe River tailwater, my preferred way to fish the river is via raft on a full or half day float trip. Unlike a number of western waters, it is possible to get out of the raft and walk-wade along the Guadalupe. While the river banks are private property, the river bed is public land. This effectively makes a float trip a mixed trip, where an angler has chances to fish the deeper water without worry of topping their waders and then get out of the boat in order to fish the riffles and shallow runs. [Back to Top]
Llano River (and South Llano)
The Llano River runs just over 100 miles through the heart of the Texas Hill Country and through three different counties and geologic zones. The best fishing on the Llano River happens in the Spring (March-June) and the Fall (October-November) for guadalupe bass, largemouth bass, catfish, rio grande cichlids and sunfish.
Click here for Llano River Access Points, Places to Stay and Places to Eat
The upper Llano River is made up of both the South Llano and North Llano Rivers, which join in the City of Junction to form the Llano River. The North Llano begins near Roosevelt, TX and does have some fishing but flows intermittently and is difficult to access. The South Llano River begins near Telegraph, TX and is spring fed from it’s source. The 700 Springs area provides the base flow for not only the South Llano but also the Llano River. Fishing on the South Llano is best done by canoe or raft, as the plunge and pool nature of the river makes wade fishing very limited.
The Llano River below the confluence of the North and South Llano Rivers flows from Junction, in Kimball County, to the south and east, through Mason and Llano Counties, eventually joining the Colorado River in Kingsland on Lake LBJ.
The Llano River in Kimball County has good access for float fishing and a limited amount of wade access fishing. The river in this area flows across a mostly limestone bed and takes on the blue/green hue familiar to those who fish other Hill Country rivers, such as the Guadalupe and San Marcos.
In Mason County, the number of river access points increases but the river is still best fished by canoe or raft. In the western portion of Mason County, the Llano continues to flow across a limestone bed but transitions to a mostly sandstone bed through the middle portion of the county. As the river approaches the eastern edge of the county the geology changes once again to a Precambrian granite riverbed. The Llano River through Mason County is one of the most geologically diverse river segments in all of Texas, providing anglers tremendous fishing mixed in with spectacular views.
Once the Llano River reaches Llano County the amount of sand and small stones increases in the river and helps filter the water, resulting in very clear and clean water in the lower portion of the river. The number of river access points along the Llano River in Llano County is similar to those in Mason County but the addition of the sand bars and granite rock gardens makes wade fishing on this section of river more practical. That is not to say that the float fishing on this portion of the Llano is to be ignored. Quite often you will discover that the further you are from a public access the better the fishing will become.
My preferred gear on the Llano is a 4 weight rod and a good pair of wading boots. For walk-wade trips I often wear a boot with metal studs, as the rocks on the Llano can be very slick.
Flies for the Llano include streamer patterns in olive, black, chartreuse and brown as well as various types of poppers and terrestrial patterns. [Back to Top]
San Marcos River
The San Marcos River is almost exclusively a float fishing river. While there are some access points along the river where you can wade, the distances you can travel by foot are more limited on the San Marcos than they are on either the Llano or Guadalupe River tailwater. The San Marcos begins in the City of San Marcos and flows to the southeast, eventually joining the Guadalupe River near Gonzales, TX. The San Marcos Springs provide a constant flow of 72 degree water into the river and make this one of the better early and late season rivers in the Texas Hill Country. Fish species on the San Marcos are similar to those found on other rivers in the Hill Country and include guadalupe bass and rio grande cichlids. Thanks to the efforts of the Texas Parks and Wildlife department, smallmouth bass and guadalupe/smallmouth hybrid bass are also present in the San Marcos.
Standard gear on the San Marcos include a 4 weight rod and, given the constant temperatures of the river at the San Marcos Springs, wet wading gear is the best choice for the San Marcos.
Fly choices are similar to those on the Llano, and includes hoppers, poppers and streamers. I do prefer a slightly heavier streamer (often flies weighted with dumbbell eyes) when fishing the San Marcos. The river channel is more narrow than other rivers in the area, and there are quite a few deeper holes and runs. The river bed is mostly limestone, with cypress trees lining the edges.
In the late spring and throughout the summer the San Marcos does experience some additional recreational traffic from people floating the river in inner tubes, canoes and kayaks. The San Marcos is also part of the course for the annual Texas Water Safari, a 260 mile kayak and canoe race billed as the “World’s toughest boat race.” [Back to Top]
The Colorado River is one of the major rivers of Texas, draining much of the Texas Hill Country, it eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico at Matagorda Bay. While there is good lake fishing on the Highland Lakes, I prefer to fish the river in and below the City of Austin.
Click here to learn more about fishing the Colorado downstream of Austin
For those in Austin, Lady Bird Lake (formerly Town Lake) is a tremendous fishery for both bass and sunfish and has produced many state record sunfish and carp. The Colorado River below the City of Austin is well know for holding very sizable bass, including largemouth bass in excess of 8 pounds. While the beauty of the Colorado River is somewhat diminished downstream of Austin, the fish in this section of river are some of best fighting fish in all of the Texas Hill Country.
Both Lady Bird Lake and the Colorado below Austin are exclusively float fishing opportunities and preferred equipment includes 5 weight or 6 weight rods, with my preference being a 9 foot, 5 weight rod for Lady Bird Lake and a 9 foot, 6 weight rod for the river below Austin. It is possible to fish a 4 weight rod with smaller flies if you are targeting the sunfish on Lady Bird Lake.
Flies for both the lake and lower river are similar to those fished on our other Hill Country streams, only larger; following the theory of “the bigger the bug the bigger the fish.”
In addition to larger and better bass and sunfish, Lady Bird Lake and the Colorado below Austin also give anglers some of the best chances to sight-cast to feeding carp in the region. While there are those who might turn their nose up at catching carp, many have been converted once they experience the fight a 10-20 pound carp can give on a fly rod. [Back to Top]
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